April 27, 2023 | News | New Database

Scholarly Migration Database: Quantifying the Mobility of Scholars


MPIDR Researchers introduced a brand-new migration database at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America (PAA) in New Orleans with support of the IUSSP panel on digital and computational demography. They celebrated the inauguration with eight invited lightning talks by researchers who have already successfully used the new database for studies published in journals such as PNAS, epj Data Science, and Scientometrics.

“The Scholarly Migration Database (SMD) provides detailed aggregated data about the mobility of scholars worldwide”, says Tom Theile, one of the three database core team members. Researchers and students who are interested in the movements of published researchers can download the datasets or explore the data on the website. The SMD is prepared and hosted at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock, Germany.

The SMD leverages the Scopus bibliometric database which strives to have all the metadata about every published journal article since 1996 and a high-quality author name disambiguation. It covers the metadata and abstracts from over 50 million articles from more than 9,000 publishers and over 17 million author profiles.

“We use the affiliation information and the author identifier to track movements of individual researchers from country to country. We then aggregate the migration events to get in- out- and net-migration counts for every country”, says Aliakbar Akbaritabar, another core team member. Via the Max Planck Digital Library, the database team used the infrastructure of the German Competence Network for Bibliometrics to generate and download 240 million authorship records from the data. One authorship record is the unique combination of author, publication and affiliation address.

Read an overview of the inauguration event in Aliakbar Akbaritabar's Twitter Thread

Further Information

MPIDR Papers Using SMD Data


Head of the Department of Public Relations and Publications

Silvia Leek


+49 381 2081-143

Science Communication Editor

Silke Schulz


+49 381 2081-153

Database Core Team

Research Scientist and Deputy Head - Training

Aliakbar Akbaritabar


+49 381 2081-238

Research Scientist / Software Developer

Tom Theile


Managing Director; Head of the Laboratories of Migration and Mobility and Population Dynamics and Sustainable Well-Being

Emilio Zagheni


+49 381 2081-104

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.